Quinton: To me, being an artist or a storyteller means you wield the power to shed light on social issues, to impact people’s lives, shape culture and maybe even in some small way change the world through your craft. I think that is why I work so well with Zack. He truly understands the power of a good story and he is driven to become the best storyteller he can. When I work with Zack one of our goals is to combat the under representation of actors with disabilities while entertaining our audience.
Our most recent project was for the Easterseals Disability Challenge. A nationwide “48 hour film festival” style competition. Luckily for us the Bing Bang crew was on board and they were able to help provide us with the equipment necessary for this project as well as a working location for shooting and editing.
Being from the same hometown as Zack, it was natural for me to lend him advice and experiences to help his project succeed. And I was blown away by his attitude, persistence and drive and I was ecstatic about the final product. I’m going to turn over the rest of this blog to Zack to talk about his project and his motivation. Zack, you’re up!
Zack: Being an artist is something that I thought I was naturally good at. When I found myself sitting in an editing bay with a half-cup of coffee and a half-empty coke in front of me, shaking from both and not sure which I was drinking last, I started to doubt it was true. As I’m well-rested, sitting in that same editing bay with only a cup of coffee, I have come to the conclusion that my doubts were founded. I’m not a naturally good artist.
Artists are made great through a collection of experiences, many of them painful. It’s this collection of experiences that have made me good at telling stories through film and the written word. Experiences like trying to turn a 10-minute script into a five-minute film in 55 hours. Experiences like trying to teach like a veteran before I even had my license. Experiences like struggling to earn a degree amidst medical issues and family turmoil. All of these experiences left me scarred, but they also gave me a voice.
Every time I’ve went through a struggle, be it spiritual, mental, financial, or physical, I’ve reinforced for myself the belief that struggles need to be faced head on. An ounce of uncertainty or hesitation might cause you to shy away or give up. To do so would be to deprive yourself of something truly valuable. Staring at a rough-cut of my film, uncertain of how I was going to make it all come together, it was hard to see any kind of value. It all seemed pointless and discouraging.
I experienced this same sense of discouragement amidst the storm of my student teaching semester. Carrying the full weight of my students’ achievement and my own expectations on my shoulders, I inflicted a fatigue on myself that wore on my body. I pushed myself to the limit mentally, physically, and emotionally only to feel like I was spinning my wheels. But now is the part where I tell you that I pushed through and got my license, right?
Wrong. I didn’t make it through because I didn’t have the energy to work 12 hours a day or the immune system to work around sick high-schoolers. I didn’t make it through because if I couldn’t be the teacher I wanted to be then I didn’t want to be a teacher at all. I didn’t make it through because I thought it would be a disservice to kids to push myself past my limits. I didn’t make it through because life is not a Disney movie. I am not meant to be a teacher, and that’s okay.
A lot of people see this as a waste of time. They laugh at me when they find out that I went to school for 5 ½ years to pursue a career that I’m not going to have. They feel sorry for me because I didn’t accomplish the thing I set out to do. Like I once did, they don’t see the value in this experience.
When I go into Smokey Row, I still have kids cordially greet me as, “Mr. Mecham.” I share my experience as a teacher with everyone I talk to. I look at each and every experience with joy, no matter how stressful or difficult. I’ve grown immensely as a result.
Now that I’m far enough removed from my film-challenge journey, I am beginning to look at it in the same way. Seeing how something seemingly frivolous like a weekend challenge or a buddy-comedy short film can impact a group of people restores my faith in the process of trial and error. Hearing people talk about how inspired they are by the work we did tells me that it wasn’t all for nothing. Hearing that someone on the verge of relapsing found encouragement in our persistence makes me glad. Finding out that I’m not Christopher Nolan restored a sense of humility that will push me to be better. To have the opportunity to work with Bing Bang and further develop relationships with these fantastic artists was alone worth all of the struggles. It is so cool to see three Pleasantville creatives work together to make something we can all be proud of.
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